My wife and I first moved into a vulnerable neighbourhood in our early 20’s. Excited by the words of Jesus and the invitation to follow him into the margins, we set up our home in our local housing commission estate with a couple of friends and zero experience with the hopes of ‘being the change we wanted to see’ in the world.
Ten years, two kids and a burnout later, we are back at it. Equally convinced of God’s call to love our neighbours, although perhaps a little less arrogant and a little more pragmatic than we once were.
Our latest adventure “into the neighbourhood” began when my wife and I started to get a similar sense that our God was inviting us to once again live and work alongside others in expressing God’s Kingdom in the ordinary aspects of day-to-day life.
That ‘still small voice’ came slowly at first, both in its quietness but also in its gentle and convicting reminder that the way we are called to live as followers of Jesus is always caught up in the mission and vision God has for the world.
And so, many conversations, prayers and a circle of discernment later, we made a decision to relocate to Norlane, just north of Geelong and join a small Baptist faith community (Norlane Baptist Church) who are exploring what it means to follow Christ in a neighbourhood like Norlane.
Norlane is a beautiful neighbourhood but sits on the fringes of society. Many residents experience a lot of challenges such as unemployment, low income, access to food, health concerns and social isolation. As an expression of their faith, followers of Christ in Norlane are trying to connect their love of God with their love of neighbour and explore what Good News looks like in this place they call home.
These expressions take a variety of shapes and sizes. From morning contemplation to weekend bible studies, community meals to neighbourhood cooperatives. It’s encouraging to see the ways God is working here in Norlane.
We know from experience that living in a vulnerable community is complicated. It can be tiring, confronting and overwhelming at times. On a daily basis you can be confronted with people’s pain including your own.
The way we live is slightly unconventional both to the Christian and the secular alike. However, we are not alone, we are part of a whole network of people who have chosen to make their home here.
We see that we are part of a long tradition and story of people of faith who have made their home in communities like ours, who believe like we do, that God is active and at work in the world, working to restore and renew all things.
So, it is early days, but we are excited to see how the journey unfolds.